‘Old ladies’ summer’ is a literal translation of a term known to English speakers as ‘Indian summer’. There are many explanations why we attribute a warm spell of weather in early fall to old ladies – some explanations given by men, some by women, some by cynics, some by romantics. Doesn’t matter how you explain it, it feels oh so nice.
This year, “old ladies’ summer” kicked off right after the official start of autumn. We gladly put away our gloves, scarves and umbrellas, and made business to go outdoors and get a good fix of vitamin D.
Sun does wonders among Estonians: our regular exchange of dead serious nods upon greeting was accompanied by a SMALL talk about the weather. You could even spot the shadow of a smile on our faces!
After a couple sunny days my mom started to complain that now it is too dry for mushrooms to grow! A reason to frown, I guess.
You see, Estonians are accustomed to go into the woods and pick mushrooms as well as berries in late summer and early autumn. We may have become urbanized and sophisticated but we still nurture the gatherer inside of us. For Estonians, it is almost a sin not to accept what Mother Earth (Emake Maa) or Father Sky (Taevaisa) offers us. It is a ritual that MUST be performed.
Since the harvest of berries and mushrooms is hugely dependent on rain, we have discerned a type of rain which is most favorable. Hence we call it ‘mushroom rain’ (seenevihm). It is certainly not the one where mushrooms or dogs and cats are falling, but it is a very fine, not too hard, even and steady rain – with a velvety feel against the skin. After a couple days of “mushroom rain” people surely get an itch to take a trip to woods.
After rainy August, allegedly there should be a bounty of mushrooms found in the forests this year. Yet a single hour yesterday in my mom’s favorite woods resulted in a single edible mushroom and a single tick which I was lucky to catch soon after arriving home.
Still, it was nice there under those trees, so peaceful and calm and somehow so cozy. All my worries were left behind once I reached the trees and all my attention was focused on ‘here and now’. It was a mindfulness meditation in an old Estonian way.